Denon D M41DAB Review

Denon D M41DAB Review

Denon D M41DAB Review

From a logical point of view, there are two explanations for the release of the D-M41DAB. Either this is an unobtrusive reminder from Denon of the invariability of its leadership position, or, given the almost two-year waiting period for a new product, the company’s desire to once again surpass itself.

Distinctive features:

The new D-M41 mini system builds on the success of the legendary M-D40 and features improved sound, new style and features. The addition of Bluetooth allows you to instantly access the system from a smartphone, tablet or computer to select and play music and control audio. However, Bluetooth can be turned off to reduce its impact on the sound of other sources when not in use. The new design incorporates the design and functionality of Denon's flagship NE line. The RCD-M41 central unit now features two digital optical inputs for connecting your TV, set-top box or other digital device that deserves high-quality sound, and also has a built-in CD and FM/AM radio. The set for high-quality sound reproduction is completed by a new set of acoustics SC-M41


So, the design has undergone quite serious changes, and this has definitely affected the sound quality. The D-M40DAB itself was superior to its predecessor in almost all respects, but in this case the difference is even more striking. The very character of the sound of the system has become noticeably more interesting.

Hot Chip's Made In The Dark from CD immediately reveals an expansion of soundstage volume and increased detail. The dynamics have become more expressive and sophisticated, this is noticeable already in the initial sounds of the album in the introduction to the composition Out At The Pictures.

By the time the music opens up, it's as if Denon have spent the last two years on a mind-expansion retreat and have returned from it having reinvented themselves.

To say that the sound has become more straightforward would be putting it mildly. The balance remains the same even, but the system willingly surrenders to the power of changeable rhythms, demonstrating enviable confidence.

After experimenting with the placement of the SC-M41, we settled on mounting the speakers further from the rear wall than the width of a conventional shelf would allow - but even if you place them close together, the tonal character won't suffer too much. The ability to create weighty and stable sound without wall support is another big plus for Denon.

We've been telling Denon for a long time that their systems could use Bluetooth support, and our prayers have finally been answered. The reduction in source material quality from CD to Spotify stream does not affect the D-M41DAB's sonic prowess.

Switching up the key with Ryan Adams' Heartbreaker, we found that the energy of Hot Chip could be traded without regret for the delicate elegance of the album's most tender passages.

But despite the lightness of the acoustic guitar plucking on tracks like Oh My Sweet Carolina, the Denon doesn't diminish the weight of Adams' voice at all.

The combination of low frequency stability and expressive dynamics makes the sound of this microsystem surprisingly human.

Mini-system Denon D-M41: return to the concept of a music center, Hi-Fi for the middle class

Many years have passed since the widespread popularity of music centers. Despite this, the legacy of that era in audio remains relevant to many today. For quite a long time, it remained a mystery to me why manufacturers are now producing equipment in this seemingly archaic format. I was prompted to write this post by a situation in which I myself could not find anything better than buying a mini-system (actually the same music center), instead of purchasing individual components.

Looking ahead, I note that this device was the Denon D-M41. In this post I will tell you in detail why I chose this particular device, describe its features, and also why the mini-system became the most suitable option for me. I would like to emphasize that in my assessments I was partly subjective, and conclusions about the qualities of the device should be made independently, through personal listening and testing. People perceive sound differently and such differences can be quite significant. Meanwhile, the Denon D-M41 is definitely worth a look.

The essence of the problem

The problem was this: my good old DVD drive, which wandered from computer to computer, which I had not changed since 2005, died for a long time and went to the landfill. It wasn't on the laptop since birth. In active bookshelf speakers, thanks to my son's intricate games, the midrange/bass speaker diffusers were turned into a sieve with neat holes the diameter of a child's finger.
At a reasonable price, the system was sold to one of my handy friends for upgrading experiments. To speak quite frankly, the old shelf-sitters have not suited me for a long time. I used what happened to them as a compelling argument in favor of the fact that money from the family budget would not be spent in vain.

Since the sale of the seriously damaged acoustics, my family has also lost the opportunity to watch movies with normal sound. In the distant future, the purchase of a multiroom loomed. Before purchasing it (about 12 months), it was planned to use active acoustics with the TV. The consequences of its “sudden” sale naturally required something to replace it, with more or less equivalent capabilities, and ideally, with optical inputs for TV.

Thus, the only sound left was two pairs of headphones, which did not quite satisfy my needs, and a mountain of old CDs that were never duplicated onto a hard drive. Searching for and listening to your favorite albums on streaming services through headphones did not bring much joy. The budget for the purchase of everything necessary was limited to 30,000 rubles.

The agony of choice

The main problem was acoustics. Among the active “shelves” I did not find anything suitable for my far from golden ears for reasonable money. Perhaps my work at Pult has already shaped my audiophile approach. Although, rather, it’s not a matter of pretentiousness, but rather a matter of personal characteristics of the subjective perception of sound. Passive bookshelf speakers (from serious brands) were characterized by an equally serious price tag.
In addition, I didn’t even think about purchasing an expensive, and in my deep conviction, useless CD transport and a separate DAC for it, as well as a separate player. These options were strongly recommended to me by some of my colleagues. Probably, someone and for some reason certainly needs such delights, but not me. During my not too long life, I got by first with a SONY CD player, and then with quite ordinary and trivial computer CD/DVD drives.

Periodically visiting our showroom, I realized that the sound that could really suit me costs much more than 30,000 rubles. This was especially true for acoustics and a more or less decent stereo UMZCH. As a result, I began to pay attention to combined options. One of our specialists, after listening to my story with the almost simultaneous loss of acoustics and drive, recommended that I buy some kind of mini-system. In terms of sound, price and combination of characteristics, I liked the D-M41 more than others.

The least important criteria were the design of the device and the ability to play CDs (since I was going to save on this functionality). I don’t bother with the class of amplifiers, although I know from myself that sometimes the D-class really justifies the letter assigned to it.
Integration with streaming services, which for many is of almost paramount importance, also worried me little. My main audio service so far is a HDD (500 GB in flac and mp3 - 320kb/s) and a large heavy rack with CDs.

Based on the combination of the criteria described above, the Denon D-M41 became the most suitable.

Decision logic

The first thing that confused me was the presence of a CD drive and FM radio in the mini-systems, which I did not feel the need for. It is logical to assume that this “add-on” is worth something. At the same time, the possibility of controlling, including a CD player via Bluetooth, was attractive to me, which in turn forced me to keep devices of this type in my sight. After looking at the price list, I realized that the price of the Denon D-M41 (25,000 rubles) corresponds to the budget, and left it for further testing.
The device power (RMS - 30 W) with a margin of 5 W satisfied my needs, which also helped the Denon D-M41 remain on the list of tested devices. Optical inputs were present in the amount of 2 pieces. This solved the issue of effectively using a mini-system with a TV.

Subjective perception of the system's sound revealed several significant differences from analogues in the same price segment. The sound was highlighted: a wider (horizontally) stereo panorama, accents in the low and low mids, and an impressive absence of distortion at high volumes for this class. The test was repeated 4 times. Out of 7 systems, the D-M41 was included in the top three of my personal preferences four times. The sine wave test revealed no problems. I think the whole point is that the speakers and amplifier were designed to be used together.

A similar blind IMD evaluation of listening to Schnittke’s chorales confirmed that the system practically does not “blur” a complex signal. According to our experts, the high fidelity of playback of this system is due to the use of a class AB amplifier and high-quality speaker components (crossover, drivers). There was also enough bass, for those who don’t have enough - there is a low-frequency output for the subwoofer.

Regarding functionality and control: integration with streaming services - no, USB - no, Wi-FI - no, AirPlay - no, Bluetooth - yes, the ability to control system parameters from a mobile phone via Bluetooth is also present. For traditionalists, a classic remote control is provided.

Bottom line

I liked the Denon D-M41 and bought it. The sound outside the showroom did not disappoint. The CD drive, which at first seemed like a useless thing, turned out to be very useful. I have long been using the untimely deceased drive exclusively as a player. Accordingly, I didn’t have to buy a new one (I don’t know if they are on sale). I hope that my story and review will help those who find themselves in a similar situation.
During the selection process, I tested quite a lot of interesting speakers, amplifiers, mini-systems, and receivers. If you liked the review, I can continue to talk about my personal experience in choosing audio. In the process of choosing with a limited budget, I learned a lot of new and interesting things.

Going beyond

No matter how good the Denon D-M41 microsystem sounds, its most likely fate is as background sound in bedrooms and offices. But it would not be fair to deprive her of the chance to prove herself in higher spheres, so in addition to the main audition, I conducted a number of experiments.

Another option is to replace the acoustics with larger and more expensive bookshelf speakers with a lower bass response roll-off frequency. This will give benefits in all characteristics, especially in the lower mids and bass, but at high volumes the amplifier will have a hard time. However, if you can install a full-size Hi-Fi, but want more bass, I think it’s quite possible to find bookshelf speakers that match the characteristics and are superior in sound to the standard ones. However, the system budget will double or even triple. After all, the entire Denon D-M41 set costs the same as a pair of mid-range bookshelf speakers.

Another bolder attempt to improve sound is to replace the built-in CD player with an external one, comparable in cost to the RCD-M41 CD receiver itself. The connection was made first with an optical and then with an analog cable. In both cases, the external CD player was noticeably inferior to the built-in one. This means that the built-in one is at least a class high, and it feels even two classes higher. The situation is the same as with replacing the speakers. It is possible to improve the sound, but the costs increase many times over.


The general conclusion is simple and obvious: Denon D-M41 are very good in their price niche, but to get even better sound, the budget will have to be radically revised.

But if, in addition to classic Hi-Fi, you also love personal audio, put your High-End headphones away and look for something simpler in stock. The corresponding output of the CD receiver is designed more for inexpensive models with a dark and bassy sound - with them it plays best. With my studio headphones, I got a very crowded sound, collected somewhere in the center of the head, almost without bass and with a raised middle. The resolution did not impress me as much as it did when listening to the speakers. In a word, everything sounded no better than the average smartphone.

But with simpler headphones, a reverse metamorphosis occurred. Compared to their sound on the same smartphone, everything has changed for the better. The microsystem in these headphones produced clearer, more prominent and focused sound; the bass picked up and became more manageable; only the stage remained as before without the feeling of width and volume, as it was on more expensive headphones.

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